Yoga Releases Trauma
Sometimes events in life leave trauma footprints. Accidents, divorce, change in economic conditions, frequent relocations, and chronic illness are a few of the events that can leave marks on the psyche and the physiology. Incidents do not have to be overwhelmingly negative to result in being traumatic: they merely need to overwhelm our abilities to adapt at the time, to cope, to rebound.
Those of us who have lived around active addiction have most likely experienced trauma. As anyone whose life has been ruled by uncertainty, inconsistency, perhaps intermittent rage, anger interspersed with kindness can tell you; these conditions eventually exceed one’s ability to readjust and rebalance ourselves . For those of us who have or had fallen into the well of addiction – trauma is a certainty.
The psychological impacts of trauma are accepted and and therapy protocols have been developed to address them. That the shadows of these events are lodged in the body, in the physical tissues and the physical brain are just now being understood. “The Issues live in our tissues” is now a fairly common quote and phrase. Yoga of 12 Step Recovery, S.O.A.R.(™), TRE(c) and Neurogenic Yoga incorporate this understanding in awareness that movement includes trauma release.
Individual talk and group therapies address what is stuck in the mind and emotions. Yoga goes a little further. We are now realizing that we heal better and more thoroughly as we release emotions that are trapped in the body. With healing breath practices, asana and meditation we learn tools to feel feelings and a way to let them go. Together yoga therapy combined with other modalities of treatment and support can affect a total integrated program for healing.
Due to the power of a mindful, therapeutic yoga practice and the power of the breath, care must be taken. Yoga instructors can gain techniques and greater ability by becoming more aware of the process and impacts of trauma. Skilled and compassionate understanding of sensitivities students touched by trauma may have (sound, the impact of touch, the impact of the language we use when teaching, lighting, arrangement of the students in the room and many other nuances) can help one maintain a secure space and thereby assist the students in feeling safe and being safe on the mat. In feeling safe, one can let go.
After several years in active recovery and therapy I found this new location where MY past had lodged. My body. I was walking around tightly wound, alternately feeling anxious and afraid; or numb and disconnected. I found yoga. Through my yoga practice my body did the talking: yoga gave my body the voice it needed.
I was grateful for the release and become more integrated; body mind and spirit. My recovery path was strengthened and I was amazed. Looking back I became well aware that the timeless impact of trauma had put me in danger of relapse. Re-energized to life and thrilled about the change, I did research and discovered what I have now come to understand I had retained my past in my physical body. Yoga practiced in a safe environment, mindfully and slowly, had allowed me to release and process these shadows of my past. I found out that I was not alone. I wanted to share this, studied more and learned how to incorporate specific sensitivities into my yoga teaching.
If you are in counseling or therapy consider working with a yoga therapist skilled in yoga for trauma and / or addiction recovery. If you take yoga classes and have experienced emotional openings on the mat you may want to pursue additional work privately with a qualified yoga therapist and / or a psychologist to complete the healing cycle: mind, body and spirit. Let both yoga and other treatment modalities become an integrated part of your rainbow of care.